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Life Health > Health Insurance

Anthem group disability exec: The oxygen is back

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Anthem, a giant major medical issuer, put some of its enormous marketing muscle behind the Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign in May.

Mike Wozny, the president of the Indianapolis-based company’s Anthem Life unit, said in a recent interview that he thinks this is a great time for insurers to be telling distributors and employers about the importance of protecting their income.

In the past few years, he said, talk about the Affordable Care Act seemed to crowd out most talk about benefits products other than major medical coverage.

This year, he said, “it feels like there’s more oxygen in the room. There’s just more room for that conversation.”

Related: Disability insurer increased producer comp spending

Wozny has been involved with group disability insurance since 1990, when he was product development manager at a unit of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. He came to Anthem from a unit of Seattle-based Premera Blue Cross in 2014.

He serves on the Disability Task Force at America’s Health Insurance Plans.

He has been enthusiastic supporter of disability awareness month efforts at both Arlington, Virginia-based Life Happens and the Portland, Maine-based Council for Disability Awareness.

People don’t really realize the risk of disability is as high as it is,” Wozny said.

Lines burring

Many employers are offering disability insurance on a voluntary basis, meaning that the employees choose whether to pay for the coverage, and that means that educating consumers themselves about the need for income protection is critical, Wozny said.

Meanwhile, Wozny said, the growing emphasis on wellness, integrating medical insurance with disability insurance, and improving the overall productivity of an employer’s workforce has been good for major medical plan issuers that are active in the disability insurance market.

Wozny also sees state officials taking more of an interest in disability insurance. In Maine, he said, the state now offers a tax subsidy for group disability insurance.

Another change Wozny is tracking is the rise of private exchange traditions.

Traditionally, he said, Anthem has sold some disability insurance through client-facing retail agents, and some disability insurance through general agents and other wholesalers who work with groups of agents.

Now, Anthem is starting to work with private exchanges. Some of the private exchanges operate as general agency wholesalers, some as retail brokers, and some as benefit plan administrators or technology vendors who operate outside the retailer-wholesaler framework.

“The lines are definitely blurring,” Wozny said.


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